Online sales grow more than 20% year over year in the country.
Tamara Thiessen , Internet Retailer
Online sales in Belgium rose by more than 20% year over year in 2011 to reach 1.10 billion euros (US$1.45 billion), compared with 903 million euros (US$1.19 billion) in 2010, according to BeCommerce, the Belgian federation of e-commerce and mail order companies. The growth is likely to continue, says Patricia Ceysens, BeCommerce president.
“In Belgium, we are seeing growth in everything concerned with online shopping,” she says. “In 2012 we also expect the growth trend to continue, with total online sales reaching the 1.18 billion euros mark (US$1.5 billion)."
E-retailers in Belgium are also expecting more growth. A survey of 500 online stores conducted for BeCommerce by online market research firm iVox finds retailers are “resolutely optimistic” about the future.
83% of respondents say they expect 10% growth in online sales in 2012—and a similar performance for mobile commerce sales.
More retail chains are moving into e-commerce in Belgium, BeCommerce says. In 2011, many major bricks-and-mortar stores, including clothing retailers e5mode, Brantano and Kiabi, opened online shops, BeCommerce says. Other Belgium retailers that began selling online last year include sporting retailer Decathlon, food retailer Delhaize and master chocolatier Pierre Marcolini.
Now that more retailers are selling online, the industry association is starting to work on its next goal: helping Belgium retailers sell internationally.
66.7% of Belgium e-retailers sold only within the country in 2011, up from 43.5% in 2010. One major reason for this is the increasing number of food and grocery retailers beginning to sell online, the study says. Consumers typically buy their groceries locally.
The association is encouraging retailers to sell to consumers in other countries. “It is important for bricks-and-mortar retailers with online stores, but also web-only stores, to develop an interest in foreign markets in order to successfully cope with international competition," Ceysens says.
Beyond encouraging retailers to sell internationally, BeCommerce is also busy keeping its eye on helping retailers foster the growing m-commerce channel in Belgium. While m-commerce represents only 2.6% of total online sales in the country currently, BeCommerce predicts a dramatic growth in mobile sales in the coming months. 15% of retailers polled already have a site optimized for mobile phones and half of the retailers surveyed plan to create one this year, Ceysens says. Additionally, 71% of online retailers expect an increase in sales because of the uptick of m-commerce this year.
BeCommerce predicts Belgium consumers will complete 20 million online transactions this year.